Do You Need Independent Legal Help Before Mediation?
Mediation appeals to divorcing couples because it’s cheaper and more collaborative than litigated divorce. However, many clients wonder if they need their own lawyer before they embark on the mediation process. The answer depends on if you want a professional to explain what you’re entitled to under the law.
How mediation works
Divorce mediation involves meeting with a mediator, who acts as a neutral third party to help you reach a settlement agreement together. You’ll still need to file paperwork in the court—a divorce petition and the eventual settlement agreement. As long as the agreement meets state requirements and resolves all outstanding issues, they’ll grant your divorce. This can significantly expedite the process.
Sometimes mediation requires that you hire financial professionals and other experts to disentangle finances and handle other issues. Remember, however, that these professionals will not act as advocates for either party.
Should I talk to a lawyer?
Both parties are free to consult with lawyers before or during mediation. Some mediators will not allow lawyers in the mediation proceedings, hoping to foster a collaborative atmosphere. On the other hand, your mediator must remain neutral. They won’t be able to tell you whether you’re accepting a bad settlement deal or giving up any of your important rights.
If you and your spouse have amassed a significant amount of wealth, have children or otherwise suspect that you’re not getting a good deal, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney. They can review the settlement agreement before you sign and let you know whether you’d be likely to get a better deal if you were to litigate the divorce. It’s up to you whether you continue to pursue mediation in the hopes of a fairer agreement, or if you want to end mediation and go to court with lawyers.
If you’re interested in divorce mediation, reach out to the knowledgeable Long Island divorce meditators at Solutions Divorce Mediation today.